RPG Banned In Australia, Sex And Drugs To Blame?

RPG Banned In Australia, Sex And Drugs To Blame?

The new role-playing game from Gothic developer Piranha Bytes has been refused classification in Australia.

The Classification Board listing for Risen, a third-person RPG for PC and Xbox 360, was updated late yesterday with an RC rating. No reasons were given as to why the game has been refused classification.

However, website Refused-Classification has speculated as to why, citing an extract from the US ratings board, the ESRB’s description of the game:

During the course of the game, players can interact with prostitutes (referred to as “whores” in the game) at a local brothel. Players can trigger a lengthy dialogue to engage in their services; sexual activity is strongly implied, but never depicted on screen. Many of the characters in the game smoke a fictional drug called “brugleweed.” The “wood reefer” plant is described as having a mild relaxing effect on users, and can be bought, sold, and used by players. Some profanity (e.g., “f*ck” and “sh*t”) can be heard in the dialogue.

Is any of that likely to exceed an MA15+ rating in this country? Profanity? No. Sex with prostitutes? Probably not. Smoking weed? Maybe.

We’ve contacted Risen’s Australian distributor, Madman Interactive, for more information and we’ll let you know if they have more detail to share.

UPDATE: To clarify, the quoted extract is from the US ratings board description of the game. It simply details elements from the game that the ESRB noted could affect its rating. It should not be taken as a list of reasons why the game was banned in Australia.

UPDATE#2: A spokesperson for Risen’s Australian distributor Madman Interactive has told us that the Classification Board felt that the game contained “sexual activity and drug use related to incentives or rewards.” That’s an instant ban right there. Madman are considering all their options but have yet to decide whether they will appeal the decision or seek to edit the game to suit an MA15+ rating.

RISEN: The latest game banned in Australia [Refused-Classification, via R18 Games Australia, and thanks to Jessi!]


  • that is so bloody ridiculous!

    Godm, the classification board here seriously shits me… why is this country full of so many damn prudes?

    • The country isn’t full of prudes; there’s just one. Problem is, that one happens to have the power to stop us from getting an R rating.

      • Atkinson’s actually said that there are other Attorney’s General that oppose the R Rating, but that he is the spokesperson for them….

        Its all bullshit anyway.

        Fallout 3 gets banned because of the Mention of Morphine and the Positive effects if gives.

        Yet Im running around in Africa at the moment watching a very detailed animation of my character stab a Syrette into his arm to heal himself.

        Far Cry 2 sailed through with an MA15+ Rating. How the hell is that different to Fallout? or to this game Risen? Im stabbing myself in the arm with a very realistic Medical Supply, yet in Fallout where there is just a picture of a Syringe, and you select it on a screen and the effects are instantaneous…

        Its bullshit. Perhaps if there were some consistancies, but they seem to rating games randomly…its a game of Russian Roulette for the Publishers and Developers.

        They say we’re a Free Country, where Indivdiuals get to make their own choices….they neglect to mention we can only choose from the Government Approved Choices.

    • You know 1/2 our problem is that there aren’t a lot of us that actually know what’s going on. For example, chuloopa, you have blamed the classification board. You do realise it’s not their fault right? They have guidelines that must be met, if they are not met the game is RC’d. What you need to do is blame the Governor General Michael what’s his face as he is the one refusing an R rating for games.

  • considering the witcher had all that and more, I don’t get why this is banned.

    The witcher involved plenty of nudity aswell yet this game apparently doesn’t? where’s the logic?

    • Agree. I’m quite sure he uses the word ‘whores’ after he arrives in the 2nd castle. Also, each woman you have sex with you get a card with a painting of the woman naked on it – to keep as a trophy.
      As for the weed situation…
      (Broader aspect) Alcohol is responsible for numerous amounts of cancer, along with cigarettes (killing people weekly!) & it’s widely accepted in our community. Alcohol causing weekly cases of violence. Especially here in Melb. No hard evidence anywhere that suggests weed is bad for you.
      I don’t get it.
      I blame Harry Anslinger.
      As for the gateway drug argument,

    • August 11, 2009 at 1:09 PM

      In answer to you question, there is no logic here.
      Its an epically flawed system plain and simple.

      Thank god for parallel importing is all i can say in response to this!

    • This.

      These old men don’t know what their doing. Heck, Conroy the internet-filter guy/Kevin Rudd are too old to understand the morals and things of the younger generations. They all are stuck to an ancient rosetta stone of laws and morals that are crystilized in the system.

      I hope the devs edit these minor issues out and re-release it.

      • “I hope the devs edit these minor issues out and re-release it.”

        No. THESE ARE MAJOR ISSUES. People should not be supporting the system. People should be attacking the political parties and the christian friends who bankroll them. This is a reprehensible situation and Australians are, again, being viewed as children because people like you simply write off adult content as “minor issues” and don’t care too much to withdraw support. Can you imagine the current generation of Australian children growing up under this regime?

  • Drugs and prostitutes!? My poor innocence will be stolen from me if I play this game. I guess I should just go back to playing GTA4. There’s no whores or drugs in that game. Right… Right???

    • You are mistaken sir.

      GTAIV originally contained slightly more whores,drugs and violence than was acceptable.

      It was censored down to an acceptable level of whores, drugs and violence for Australian teens.

      • That is correct. EXCEPT if you then purchased and downloaded The Lost And Damned DLC which THEN put back all the RC-related material that was removed from the AU version!

        And for that I <3 Rockstar.

        Also, You could smoke weed in SAINTS ROW which let you take less damage when you got shot. And that got allowed….

        Your rating board Mr. Man, is flawed.

  • The OFLC don’t play games. They have a pair of dice. When an adult game comes along they roll the dice. If both dice show a ‘one’ the game is banned.

    Snake eyes. Everyone loses.

  • Its sad the blindingly obvious double standard for movies and games in this country, profanity?, most primetime movies in Australia get away with colourful language with no more than a M rating. The next one is ridiculous, IMPLIED SEX, what the hell does that mean?, so games can now get rated for something that isn’t even shown, Sure with movies we have “sexual references” that can include actual sex scenes as long as they are not graphic (I seem to remember that movie click being a M rated movie with about 3 IMPLIED SEX scenes in it., as soon as sex is even mentioned in a game its over. As for the fantasy drugs?, the kids in the Harry potter movies take special magical plants in the movies to help them win at life, Surly it’s the same deal?

    The only thing I can take out of this is the classification board is Pro child drug abuse.

    I see 3 problems about the games classification in Australia

    1. The R18 situation
    2. The fact that the classification boards decisions are so wildly inconsistent that it makes me wonder just how much one has to bribe them to get something passed.
    3. The fact that almost everyone making the laws regarding video games are cavemen

    Anyway that’s my rant

  • I have to say it’s pretty bullshit if they ban this. Especially if it’s over weed smoking. You could smoke weed in Gothic 2 to restore your mana, and we were able to buy that in aus.. Gothic has to be one of my all time favourite RPG’s, so if they ban this I will be sorely disappointed.

  • Remember the situation with Fallout 3?, it had drugs, then changed the name of its drugs to make them seem fictional, suddenly fictional drugs are an issue as well?

    i dont get it

  • I would love to hear a representative from the OFLC talk about the reasons for games such as these get R/C’d while some that are arguably more gratuitous get released. Also, I would love to know the system that they use to rate games and if it’s the same team classifying each game.

  • On the drug use front

    Pineapple Express: MA
    Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle: MA
    Weeds: MA
    Breaking Bad: MA (And this one deals with cooking and selling crystal meth, as well as the use of a range of narcotics)

    I just… wow, so a game that depicts the use of narcotics as having an effect on your mental state is considered more harmful than a TV show that demonstrates a man making thousands and thousands of dollars by cooking and selling narcotics.

  • It’s not only Micheal Atkinson.

    Atkinson is responsible for holding up public discussion, but there are others who are just as conservative on this issue.

    I have a friend who works with John Hatzistergos, the NSW Attorney General, who told me that Hatzistergos also has issues with allowing an R18+ rating for videogames.

    I’ve said this before – we need leadership from the Game Developers’ Association of Australia. They need to come out and organise their members to fight political candidates who oppose an R18+. They need to threaten to leave Australia – and with it the money they bring into the country – if an R18+ is not put on the table. We need the GDAA to take the fight to the people, by advertising on TV, on Radio, and in Newspapers.

    • Word.. Funky J. You hit the nail on the head here.. this is the ONLY way we will get an R18+ classification in Australia.

      Or the media runs with this and suddenly discussion and public consultation leads to the general realisation of “Huh? We don’t have R18 classification for Games? What the f**k we’re we thinking!”. Either way, someone needs to take this on.

      But as Atkinson continues to squash any attempt at public discussion, this will continue to be an embarrassment to this country…

      • Not Atkinson but the PM. There is meant to be a discussion paper released by the commonwealth.. So where the hell is it?

  • Thank goodness for BitTorrent. PC version it is. Sorry Piranha Bytes, you can blame that loss of money on Sir Dickhead Atkinson.

    • Your hate should be directed at the ALP since they approve of his choice. They could easily pressure him to change, but don’t

  • so “sexual activity and drug use related to incentives or rewards” is a no-go but rewarding players for acts of violence is totally okay, wtf. a lot of gamers frequent prostitutes and smoke weed in real life anyway, Atkinson is out of touch.

  • One question? Is the game any good? I am hanging out for a new RPG on the 360 and this looked like it might be the goods.

    Hope they work this amazingly stupid situation out down here. Why the government feels the need to hold my 30 year old hand when I buy entertainment is beyond me.

  • I wonder when games will be rated more like other media.
    I think that politicians and groups think they are more influential because of their interactivity which is weird when games like gta selling millions and there isn’t millions of crimes committed by people just from playing those games (only people trying to use them as an excuse for their actions).
    Footballers make the news for some doing some awful stuff alot now but you don’t see anyone trying to ban football.

  • Mr. Atkinson, jeeze this guy lives in a bubble in Croydon and has never even drove a car and walks his little dog gus around the block… get out and live a little atkinson, first up get your license and buy a car and go for a drive, then buy a bag a pot and get really stoned, if thats not your thing then go down to your local pub and get smashed and get in a fight or something… this dude should seriously live life and stop worrying about video games affecting poor little 12 year old johnny.

  • Australians are failing to take this into their won hands and create political change as The Australian Labor Party in power throughout the entire nation. Why keep supporting that twerp Rudd? Or the Liberal Party for that matter.

  • Wow that’s a lot of comments. This issue stopped bothering me a long time ago, As i have imported any RC’d game i have wanted with no problem.

  • In this golden age, banning a game does not mean squat. what kind of insipient would allow a domestic banning prevent them from “aquiring” the game?

  • why do the OFLC let movies with graphic violence or sex and/or drug use get through classifications? but when a video game has the same content they freak out. Why are we letting this 2-bit idiot tell us what we can and cant play.

    • It’s because the player is ‘in control’ of the character what ever the hell that means. I am pretty sure I am in control when I went to see Kill Bill at the movies or Dexter and Rome on tv

  • You know what I think is great is the fact that the PEGI (the European Rating system) consider it a an age 16+ restricted game and they even have 18+ rating.

    Gotta get me to Europe were some form of liberalism is still alive.

  • I am one that opposes pirating games but when this happens what is everyone going to do? We’ve all said it before that a bunch of old bastard wankers run everything and this once again proves it. Thanks a lot Attorney General Wanker Atkinson.

    More to the point what is an Attorney General doing deciding what video games get released??? Shouldn’t it be a board of gamers or those in the gaming industry?

  • Bioshock had you actively shooting up with a syringe, I can see violence, sex and drug related programs on TV where children can see it too, so why can’t we adults play R-rated games???

  • This reminds me of a particular song I heard in a satirical movie made by the creators of South Park. AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!

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